A Thinking Man

What Men May Want to Know


Mentoring

By Don Wright

I grew up with no father, a mother that was certifiable and three younger brothers. On the face of it you might think there’d be a fat chance of success at anything; low-income, poor schools, struggling middle class neighborhoods. No access to any type of higher education other than a library.

For a frustrated scientist wanna-be, life was miserable.

At the time I had very little idea of what lay beyond the bicycling perimeter of my little world. But the fear of the unknown was nothing to compared to the fear of things staying the same. When I graduated from school I hit the ground running and I’ve been running ever since.

From a vantage point of forty years later, I see a missing element from my youthful development. An element that, if supplied, would have kept years of anxiety, fear, worry and struggling at bay. Was it love, education, money? No, none of these things would have made much difference I don’t think. But there is one thing that would have made all the difference.

A mentor.

I’ve always loved flying things, I could have been a pilot. There were no pilots where I came from. I’ve always been fascinated with building and manufacturing. There was no industry anywhere. I could have been almost anything – but it seemed to be a shortage of inspirational people and opportunities.

But this isn’t a story of woe and I’m certainly not looking for sympathy. I’ve had fantastic success in my life considering my meager beginnings. But, what could it have been with the right person instilling targeted confidence?

And that’s the key – targeted confidence.

Most of our lives we’re told that we could grow up to be anything we wanted . True enough. We read stories of great men, heroic achievements; we’re told we could be the president, an airline pilot, a doctor or lawyer. But for most of us it’s just a pipe dream. We’re left to figure out how to become those things. We’re left to wind our way through the maze of life only to reinvent the wheel on how to become or do anything out of the norm.

It’s all about confidence. How many times have you known or seen someone in a high position and think, I can do that job? And most likely you can. But more often than not we simply don’t have the confidence that we’d be successful, or the confidence to even try. We’re ignorant of, “what it takes,” to meet a specific goal, so our dream dies or gets sidetracked.

Wayne Dyer is fond of saying, “Don’t die with your music still inside you.” I agree. I’m the poster child for struggling not to die with my music still inside.

Here’s a short story that has recently driven home the point that I could have been a millionaire a lot sooner than I will be.

During the early nineties I was on a road trip with my wife, Barbara. It was raining. As the trucks passed  through the rain and wind I had an idea for an invention. We talk about it for miles. The idea is an inflatable cone-shaped device that attaches to the back of tractor-trailers and improves the aerodynamics. Fuel savings. I’m excited. I draw diagrams, read a few books on patents, went as far as documenting my ideas in detail and having witnesses sign them. But at that point I became stumped and the idea languished.

Twenty years later.

A couple of days ago I was passed by a semi. It had an aerodynamic cone attached to the rear end of the trailer. A “Trailer Tail.” All I could do was grab the camera and take a couple of quick pictures before it disappeared in the distance.

Shit.

A life I could have had. But that’s not the only one. It’s happened countless times.  I have an idea. I take it as far as I can. I see it produced by someone else years later.

But the truth of it is, it’s happened to all of us. So what is lacking? Knowledge is a key ingredient, but knowledge is out there and available, there’s no shortage of people claiming that they’ve done it, and – if you only buy my book – I’ll show you how you can do it too. But that’s not it.

Confidence. That’s the missing ingredient for most of us.

I’ve heard millionaires say that if they lost it all, they would simply make another million – no big deal. They have the confidence of prior knowledge. And until you have that prior knowledge for yourself you’ll have doubt. Doubt is a killer of all things that could be.

You have to confidently march in the direction of your hopes, dreams and aspirations. Your intent will help manifest the right conditions, opportunities and most importantly, the right people.

I know now what I didn’t know then. The “sweat equity” of your unfailing, unfaltering intent is where the magic happens. I’ve seen it too many times to doubt that it’s true.

If you would benefit from having a mentor on your side and no others seem to be around just now, let me get your ball rolling. Feel free to write to me and if I can help I will.

Focus on what you want. Intend to make it happen. Seek out others that may help. Assemble the crumbs of information and opportunity into a tangible plan. Knock on doors of anyone that might be able or willing to help you.

Learn all you can about your specific goal or idea. It’s very humbling to think you’re a special person with a unique idea only to find out that hundreds of others have preceded you already. You are in extraordinary company – billions of others that are extremely creative, extremely resourceful. But, that’s a good thing.

Move forward. Don’t stop. Initially your confidence will lag just behind you, but know this, confidence is an illusion, a trick – one day it will simply appear before you.

Always be on the lookout for a mentor, their confidence is contagious and it’s the best way to break out of your comfort zone into the unknown. Beware the false mentor however, there are those that claim you can do the same things they’ve done, but the truth is they were simply lucky and the results are not reproducible. Don’t get caught in that trap.

But most of all, be a mentor if you see the opportunity. Give concrete help, knowledge and information when you can. Telling someone to have confidence is one thing, showing them how to have it priceless.

Of all the things a man may want to know – this should be in everyone’s owner’s manual.

 





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